Monday, June 7, 2010

Renaissance Walk Eateries On Life Support, Good Thing Grady Is Close

Running an errand near GSU, I couldn't help but notice that Yoeshi and One Cafe Blanc were plastered with signs stating that they were closed "due to lease issues" from 5/18-5/24, yet as of this past weekend, they remain closed. A statement issued on their Facebook page on the 18th stated that they were closed for "lease negotiations," yet nothing has been said since. If you ask me, the "issue" is that now they likely want to negotiate a new lease, having determined that whatever they are paying is too great a financial burden to allow the business to stay afloat. As I've said before,to locate where they did (Renaissance Walk at 171 Auburn Avenue, a now foreclosed upon property) and to serve all that they do (crepes, burritos, Fro-Yo, salads, and sushi), all decent but not amazing, was not a good idea or a well thought out business. Now especially, as nearby Georgia State is out for the summer, and the nearby dorms are nearly vacant, downtown residents are far more likely to make the trip to Sweet Auburn Curb Market than to Renaissance Walk. Never one to hold back, I said from day one that this place would be in trouble and here we are. I placed them on the DeathWatch even before opening and it seems they are earning their place.

Around the corner, on the Auburn Avenue side of Renaissance Walk, The Sweet Auburn Bistro, which opened in March of last year, has a similar sign posted, with a re-opening date that passed without the place re-opening.

"Sweet Auburn Bistro will be closed for renovations beginning Monday May 24th We will Re-Open June 2nd at 11am."

While the doors and windows at Yoeshi / One Cafe Blanc were all free of obstruction, Sweet Auburn was a different story, with paper basically covering the doors and windows from the inside. When I stopped by to have a look on June 1st, mid-day, I peeked in through a small hole in the paper and it did not appear that renovations were in progress. The place looked abandoned. I placed a number of calls to the number listed on their website but never reached anyone. The sign directs interested parties to go to their website to make future reservations, but this would be difficult, as the link from their website to OpenTable takes you to "We're sorry, but the restaurant you requested could not be found," in essence saying that an online reservation is an impossibility. Multiple sources also tell me the owner, believed to be Glen Law, had not been paying his employees in recent weeks, and many have already sought employment elsewhere.

As I said, Renaissance Walk as a whole went into foreclosure months ago and currently the ownership seems in limbo. Interestingly, Gene Kansas Developments is listed on their website as in charge of retail leasing, and Patrick Busko as the agent to contact. A call to Gene Kansas uncovered that A, Mr. Busko is no longer an employee and B, Gene Kansas is no longer representing the property. The leasing office within the property seems either poorly staffed or not staffed at all as I was unsuccessful in reaching anyone at the number for the better part of a week. Given this, its unclear to me with whom lease negotiations may be taking place.

With both of these eateries, it seems as though posting misleading and confusing signs is how their proprietors chose to communicate with the public, something that has unfortunately been done in the past with little success. Readers will recall that The Grape Inman Park, owned by music star Usher, "closed for renovations," never to reopen (it's now Pure Taqueria) . Larry's Giant Subs in Sembler's Prado development in Sandy Springs also closed for what they referred to as a remodel, but over a year later, has still not re-opened. Not to knock anyone, but it seems clear to me that the problem starts with site selection, and continues with management and marketing. It's sad to see so many places closing, but as friends and I have noticed, far too many people, entrepreneurs or not, have the "I like food, I know others like food, I'm gonna open up a restaurant!" mentality. Never mind the lack of planning, or in some cases lack of funding, too many places are being opened only to fail shortly thereafter. ToNeTo Atlanta

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Pam-tastic! said...

That sucks about Sweet Auburn Bistro. I've been wanting to try it for a few weeks now but hesitated due to mixed reviews. I guess if it closes, I'm not missing much anyway.

Anonymous said...

You can say what you want about the One/Yoeshi concept (the burgers - which you failed to mention - are fantastic) but I can tell you that their lease renegotiations are real. The Bank of America owns the building and voided their previous lease. The bank then presented a new lease for a shortened term demanding another huge deposit (six figures) among numerous other expensive propositions that the owners had a problem with given their huge buildout costs and payouts to the previous owners.

Emma said...

This is karmic retribution for my never going down that way even though I go to GSU. "It's too far!" I thought. "It might as well be the Commons [the big dorm on Piedmont Ave. I used to live in], I don't have time!" Gah. They looked like cool places too. Sad :(

Anonymous said...

As a condo owner in the building above these restaurants (yes, there are quite a few of us and we all love the Renaissance Walk Condo building and its location), it's sad to see these restaurants close or "renovate". Sweet Auburn Bistro was really good and always seemed busy, and I tried One Blanc Cafe once before it closed. My burger at One Cafe was good (I enjoyed it more than the burgers at Grindhouse around the corner). I do know that Bank of America owns the building after it went into foreclosure, and it has been reviewing alot of the deals, leases, and agreements the previous owner "Integral" made and most of the deals have to be renegotiated because 1) they didn't make sense 2)forced the condo assocation side to carry expenses that should be shared expenses with the retail side. I feel sorry for these restaurant owners. I hope they can bounce back from this and reopen.

Atlantan99 said...

As of this week Yoeshi and One Cafe Blanc look abandoned and there are no longer signs posted with any sort of update.

Sweet Auburn Bistro now displays signage that says "Auburn Jake's" Greats Steaks and Seafood" Coming Soon. Word that Sweet Auburn owner Glen Law is involved in this latest venture has me wanting to call it now. FAIL.

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